I've never been into SUVs and crossovers, but when it comes to EVs Teslas are by far the most popular in the SF Bay Area and Model 3s and Ys in particular. I'm warming up to the Model Y over the Model 3.
On Turo there are Model Y owners who rent out their cars so I decided to book a day's trip in one to scratch that curious itch. The closest host in my area happened to own a Performance variant in white - my preferred color for the Y (and probably the most popular that I've seen). His is a bit stealthy since he doesn't have the large wheels and red calipers that screams I'M AN INSANELY QUICK CAR SO WHO WANTS TO DRAG RACE. His VIN is around 23k with about 18k miles on the odometer.
Around pick-up time he shared his car with me by linking my email address to it. There was an odd quirk in the Android Tesla mobile app where I had to reinstall it to get the new addition to show up. Getting my phone to work as a key also had a slight hiccup in the process but once that was resolved I was on my way. This black "credit card" key makes me feel extra sophisticated.
A Turo rental in a Tesla - $200. Supercharging for the day - $10. Discovering how under-performant my old S85 has become - priceless.
For everything else there's Mastercard.
This particular Model Y had its original 19" Gemini wheels swapped out for some lighter Martian Wheels MW03s. No doubt this provides a smoother ride than the Überturbines that comes default on a Performance.
The wheel avatar setting within the UI can't unfortunately yet account for aftermarket designs.
The carbon fiber spoiler is the only obvious giveaway from a distance that this car can leap forward faster than most others. The only other clue is the red line underneath the Dual Motor badge.
As I began driving I immediately noticed how the car regens harder than what I'm used to and actually comes to a full stop without manually applying the brakes. A quick dig into the UI revealed Stopping Mode. I missed the memo on this as it's apparently been out for a while.
One of my complaints about regen braking in my Model S is that the final stretch of a regen slowdown is essentially a coast-to-stop. I prefer that transition to be more of an active stop which Stopping Mode set for Hold exactly does. Bravo, finally. Too bad this isn't an option in my car. I don't recall seeing this setting in the 75D loaners I've had either. This is awesome and the physical braking is blended in smoothly.
Tesla has offered the white interior option for a while now and it's gotten rave reviews. I've always been a bit skeptical because while it does look fantastic, I wondered about window reflectivity and glare while driving. I didn't find this to be an issue at all and while I like the black interior with the wood trim, I think I've been swayed towards the white-interior crowd now. The owner of this car has a carbon fiber wrap on the console to cover up the factory gloss-black surface. Good move.
Some interior trim pieces like the door switches also come in gloss black which I've never been a fan of. I'd assume there are aftermarket options to address this.
After a quick bite to eat I headed along the semi-twisty road along Niles Canyon Road towards Sunol (where I got a basic sense of how the steering/handling feels compared to my S85), eventually turning upwards onto Pleasanton Sunol Road, then turning onto 680 South, and eventually ending up at Coffee & Water Lab in San Jose for a snack break and some single-origin pour over goodness:
I began dabbling with Navigation on Autopilot and headed up the peninsula to Redwood Shores and Foster City for some pic-taking and refreshments at Penelope's Coffee. NoA is not available for my old Mobileye-based system and the Y was set to require manual confirmation for lane changes (I didn't change this). It's a neat feature but sort of complicates the driving experience. Probably requires some adjusting to and becomes natural over time. However in my limited testing I found that the car took freeway off-ramps smoothly for the most part. My S85 utterly fails with that sort of thing.
The newer turn stalks took some getting used to. Model 3 and Y stalks have one of those reset-to-center designs which spring back to the neutral position after tapping it. While an annoyance, I suspect this actually helps in NoA or FSD scenarios where the car needs to do its thing automatically, and having to deal with a mechanical failure point which software can't easily address is the more sensible design as a future-proof. But for us non-AI meatbags, it's yet another thing to transition our habits to.
That said the newer Autopilot system certainly seems to change lanes with more confidence. With mine I often have to wait several seconds while the car checks, double-checks, aaaand then triple-checks the adjacent lane just to be like super sure, adding a sense of hesitancy to the experience. In the Model Y it just does it. Like, right now. Done. Continue forward with your life, human.
The steering wheel scroll controls were pretty intuitive and didn't feel cheap or plastic-y at all. Although I'm not a fan of the 3/Y steering wheel design, it's a better size than on the Model S where I feel it's a bit oversized and on the 3/Y it certainly feels solid in material quality.
Autopilot v3 recognizes traffic signals and knows when they turn red/yellow/green and actually comes to a halt when needed. Sometimes it doesn't realize when there are traffic signals (or something that looks like it) that are non-operational and slows down unnecessarily. Safety first, of course, but this gets annoying when that happens.
In addition there's a chime when the signal turns green. It's settable in the UI, but I was caught off-guard until I quickly realized this feature was a thing.
Model 3/Y side mirrors have a narrower profile compared to S/X and presumably the newer profile for these "wind brakes" reduces drag and increases range/efficiency.
Also, rear visibility is not great. The back window opening is pretty narrow from the driver's position.
Now let's get this out of the way: panel gaps and fit/finish. Sure there are a few but I didn't care to inspect thoroughly for an exercise in nitpicking. I'm so used to this on my own car that I'll let it slide since the rest of the car more than makes up for it. Yeah, we get it, Elon. "Production is hard."
I noticed quite a few rattles inside the vehicle as well, but hey if you drive a Tesla just turn up the awesome sound system and done. Or something like that. Speaking of the audio system, it's certainly superior to the non-premium sound in my S85 but that's hardly surprising. The bass certainly doesn't distort easily like it does on mine, but that's what I get for cheaping out on that option so many years ago.
On a side note, I didn't really punch the accelerator much during my time with the Y. It's glorious, yes, but I rarely stomp on the pedal in my own car since I don't drive like that. Plus I've set it to Chill mode in the past and barely noticed the difference. But yes it can be fun when the urge strikes. Or so I've heard.
Towards the end of the day I took the car over to a 250 kW Supercharger (no, not the one in the picture below) and compared the charging speeds to what I currently get in my car.
Unsurprisingly I got faster speeds. Like, 2 - 2.5X what I can achieve in my S85. Sure there are variables like ambient temps, whether the battery was thermally prepped before charging started, if the charging stall is paired to another currently in-use and the utilization level in that paired stall, the SoC at the start of charging and how much I intend to fill the battery, stock market fluctuations, how close it is to Christmas, etc. but the results were clear: with an ambient temp of around 68° and most of the other stalls in use, I got:
- 219 kW (20% SoC)
- 192 kW (25% SoC)
- 173 kW (30% SoC)
- 158 kW (35% SoC)
- 144 kW (40% SoC)
- 128 kW (45% SoC)
- 113 kW (50% SoC)
- 100 kW (55% SoC)
- 91 kW (60% SoC)
I've been running these casual tests in my S85 over the last month and while I'm getting better results than I previously got at the beginning of testing, it still doesn't come remotely close to what modern Teslas achieve:
- 84 kW (20% SoC)
- 80 kW (25% SoC)
- 77 kW (30% SoC)
- 72 kW (35% SoC)
- 68 kW (40% SoC)
- 63 kW (45% SoC)
- 56 kW (50% SoC)
- 51 kW (55% SoC)
- 47 kW (60% SoC)
Wow, so that's what present-day EV refilling is like? I realize now more than ever that I'm living in the dark ages. Is this how Elon spits in my face and suggests that I upgrade from my peon-mobile?
So let's just ... hypothetically consider how I would configure a Model Y if I were to hypothetically order one. It's not like there are many options to choose from. We'll go with the Performance package (because: Überturbines; because: safety and power required to get out of harm's way) and then we'll go with the white multi-coat (because: it's free and saving money very important) and then choose the white interior (because: "opens up the cabin" or something) and then finally add FSD (because: it's The Future, yo and Elon's going to officially release it last year).
Doesn't that look nice? You buy now?
That'll be $71,990 as of this writing ... plus taxes, plus destination and doc fee. Plus the massive opportunity cost when instead considering having that money compound in an S&P 500 index fund over the next decade which could afford me early retirement. I can shave off roughly $5,000 if I scale back to the peasant Dual Motor model with the 20" wheels which will still beat my car off the line to 60 and have lunch while it waits for me to catch up.
As a reference, in 2014 I paid over $90,000 (plus taxes, etc.) for my Model S with what is now 7-year old antiquated technology. For the low, low price of present-day technological marvels I'd get better acceleration, range, charging speeds, superior display graphics, a superior Autopilot experience, FSD-capability, more cameras with Sentry, door pockets, a nimbler-driving vehicle, rear cupholders, etc., etc. and that oh-so-important Instagram envy amongst my two followers who accidentally clicked on my link some years ago.
So, so tempting...
The owner mentioned that he has a Cybertruck on order. If he lists it on Turo, well ... guess what I'll be doing.